At 8:15 tomorrow morning, exactly 58 years after the first atomic bomb demolished Hiroshima, an interfaith gathering will pause in remembrance at the Lyndale Park Peace Garden in Minneapolis.
Beginning at 7:30 a.m., Episcopalians and others will read poems, sing songs and hang paper cranes in the peace garden, culminating with that moment of silent commemoration. Throughout the day, members of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship will give Convention participants origami cranes folded by people across the country.
“I always think about how Aug. 6 in the Episcopal calendar is the Feast of Transfiguration,” said Episcopalian Marj Wunder of Edina., Minn., who was instrumental in creating the peace garden. “There are lots of … metaphorical kinds of messages there about the light that transformed the world, and then we had another light that transformed it for evil.”
Wunder is founder and coordinator of Minneapolis-Hiroshima Friendship Cities, which fosters Minneapolis’ relationship with Hiroshima. Neighboring St. Paul is a sister city to Nagasaki.
In 1983, Wunder and her husband visited Hiroshima. “It proved to be just a life-changing experience.”
Wunder brought with her a notebook of messages written by people in Minneapolis. She presented this to the archives director at the Hiroshima peace museum, who arranged a visit with the museum director. Wunder told him a peace group in Minneapolis hoped the museum could contribute a memorial item for a peace garden. This started a process leading to the dedication of the garden on Aug. 6, 1985, the 40th anniversary of the bombing.
The museum donated a portion of a bridge railing at the epicenter of the explosion. “It truly, truly is a historical, priceless relic,” Wunder said. “For them to so graciously offer this to the city of Minneapolis based on this sort of modest request, it still overwhelms me 20 years later to think about it.”
The pillar-shaped relic stands at one end of the garden, and a similar-looking curbing stone later donated from Nagasaki stands at the other. The Nagasaki stone was given by a citizen who had seven of them. “To him, they represented the seven members of his family that had been lost in the bombing,” said Wunder, calling it “a real symbol of reconciliation.”
Tomorrow’s ceremony will include a retelling of the story of Sadako, a Japanese girl who died of radiation sickness before she and her friends could fold 1,000 cranes, which legend says will cause a wish to be granted. Retired Lutheran Bishop Lowell Erdahl also will speak.
Episcopalians can catch a 7 a.m. shuttle from the Convention Center to the ceremony, but they must reserve a seat today at the Episcopal Peace Felowship exhibit (booth 231) in the Exhibit Hall.